Monday, May 12, 2008

Boring Sights Or Bored Sightseers?

Continuing our look at G.K. Chesterton's call for secular, world-affirming Christianity, I'd like to turn our attention to the believing response to what the Reformed call common grace. Chesterton writes, "The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder." He adds:
"What is now needed is the most intensive imagination.... It is not merely seeking new experiences, which rapidly become old experiences. It is really learning how to experience our experiences. It is learning how to enjoy our enjoyments."
In other words, there are no boring sights, only bored sightseers.

A line of Conor Oberst's comes to mind in the Bright Eyes song Road to Joy: "My mind races with all my longings, but can't keep up with what I've got." The point being made here is that we mustn't lose amid our eschatological, future-focused hopes the ever-present joy of the earthly, the simple, and the wonderfully mundane.

"Men rush towards complexity," Chesterton says, "but they yearn towards simplicity. They try to be kings, but they dream of being shepherds."
"The point of the story of Satan is not that he revolted against being in hell, but that he revolted against being in heaven. The point about Adam is not that he was discontentedwith the conditions of earth, but that he was discontented with the conditions of the earthly paradise."
A sense of wonder and enjoyment of the providential blessings of earth is essential to true humility, and is also a direct by-product of a robust, two kingdoms-driven love for all things ordinary. Sometimes we become so obsessed with the next big thing that we barely notice how good the beer tastes that we're drinking while we dream.

Children, Chesterton points out, are constantly asking grown-ups (often to their frustration) to "Do it again!" Well, he concludes,
"... perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again' to the moon."
World without end. Amen.